Monday, September 19, 2016

September Update 2: New Worlds and Plans

Here it is. A little later than halfway through the month, but it's a second update for September. It's pretty exciting and encouraging to me to have enough to talk about in two separate posts for a month.

Some of it is just a continuation of last post. But there's been some shifting and changing of plans, too.

First, I submitted my 24-hour short story contest story to a flash fiction magazine. It's been about a month and still no news, which I consider good news. They didn't outright reject me, anyway. I'm hopeful. Warily hopeful, I guess. I had kind of stopped submitting short stories for awhile there because I was going to put out my collection. Plans changed on that, as they often do, though, so I've been toying with submission again. My writing friend Dianne told me about The Submissions Grinder, which is a free market tracker. I started an account and have been enjoying looking at the stats and stuff. I've got a couple out and other market I'm waiting to open back up to submit to. I'll let you know if anything comes of any of that.

As far as my project timeline, I got about 5k words written for my adventure novella, and then came to a bit of a standstill. And I still had about a week before my editing project. So I read back through a couple of my previous novels. I have a lot (A LOT) of trunk novels. I have ten years' worth of NaNo attempts under my belt, after all. And I'd say of those ten, I may have maybe four pretty solid books (MoL was not written during NaNo in November, FYI. It started as a Camp NaNo and was finished in the months following that camp).

After spending a few days in a novel currently called Online Dating for Demons (NaNo 2011 that I started writing two weeks after finishing MoL), I realized I was really excited about it. So I began an editing treatment on it. I read through it in something like two days, writing an outline and making notes of things that need fixing and where. This book has already gone through beta readers, so I know what it needs. I worked through some of the missing backstory and figured out how to fix a couple of plot holes...but that's as far as I got. I realized I didn't have the energy or the time to do the massive edits it needs. It also needs quite a bit more written. Which I guess I knew going in. It was only around 56k words when it was finished.

But. The good news is, after five years, I no longer hate that book. I know how to fix it, and I even know what I can write about for the sequel. It's a relief, because this book has a lot of commercial potential. It may be the one to land me an agent.

So I wrapped that up and got news that I wasn't going to be getting Rachel's short when she originally thought. So that gave me a few more days to work on my own stuff. I panicked. I wasn't ready to work on ODD, and I also wasn't ready to go back to my adventure novella. But I didn't want to be idle, so...I read back through my NaNo from last year.

And it also sucked me in. I'd already done an editing treatment on it, so after reading through it, I began with a few small tweaks and worked my way up to writing something like 8k additional words. It still needs something like 2k-5k more, but I'm feeling really good about it. Pieces are coming together. It's a really clean draft. It's well-written and exciting. It's not going to need too much more work before it's ready for beta readers. Another few days, probably.

Of course, I now have my editing project, so I have to poke at it during the day when I'm on breaks. Progress has slowed down considerably.

I am also feeling a bit defeated because even when it's ready, I don't really have anyone to beta read it. All of my really good beta readers are on deck to read ToK next month. So. I will likely have to trunk this one until the MystWatch series is done.

This is both good and bad. It's good because hey, I have two other books that start two whole new series ready for me when I'm done MystWatch. It's bad because they're going to be on hold, back burner projects for awhile. I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to focus on them on a front burner again.

I hadn't realized how much I needed to visit other worlds. I thought two different worlds would be enough. Turns out I'm more like Brandon Sanderson and have to be dabbling in a number of different worlds in order to keep my forward progress. I've already written more this month than I have in a month in the last several. I feel refreshed and creative and inspired.

It's done a number on my timeline, though. Not in a bad way. But opening up my time to all of these different projects is going to make scheduling infinitely more tricky. And probably put off publication for awhile, too. I'm ok with both of those things, though. I'm in a hurry, but not really in a hurry. I would love to be able to write full time, but for now, it's like having this little secret from most of the world. Only my writer friends know it.

Someday the world will know I am a writer. But for now, it's just this blog and my writing group.

I am so thankful for this blog. It allows me to talk about this stuff when I know the husband and my friends are tired of listening to me.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September Update: Con Recap and Optimism

I usually wait until the middle of the month to update, but I have a lot to say about the second half of last month and what I'm looking at for the first half of this month. Maybe this will be a part 1 for September. I keep talking about having multiple updates a month. Maybe this month that'll finally happen!

First up, I didn't win anything for the 24-hour short story contest. Apparently they were not looking for humor. I didn't even get an honorable mention. Which breaks my streak, sadly. I thought about doing the fall contest, but I'm not going to have time this month.

I do have the story I wrote for the contest on submission, though. It may not win me prize money, but maybe I can get it published somewhere for a few bucks. We'll see. It's kinda quirky flash fiction, which will make it tough to place. But at least it's unpublished. That should help.

Second, I did go to WorldCon, despite my misgivings and last-minute vows to stay home. It was a grand old time. I got tons of free books (the free book line was probably my favorite part), I spent a ton of time hanging out with Dianne, which was a blast, and I got to meet a ton of cool authors and editors. I even spent about an hour sitting at the same table, talking with John Scalzi. He is a totally awesome dude. I got to hear lots of other well-known authors talk: I'm now a big fan of Charlaine Harris as a person, along with Gail Carriger, both of whom I plan to give their books another chance. I may have even landed a possible slush pile reader job if I can ever vag up and contact the lady.

There were horrendous and awful moments, too, like That Panel and barfing forever in the middle of the night (not even because of drinking). But it was a five-day con. It's not all going to be roses. I had a great time and would definitely go again someday. We're thinking New Zealand in 2020, hehe. I should have things published by then!

I am still on track with my project timeline. Ahead, actually. I fixed the first chapter of MoL and made a few other tweaks to it so that it is now officially ready for line edits. I turn it over to Rachel in mid-September when she kicks me her novella for editing. I also finished my in-depth first-pass edits for ToK. I've passed that draft on to the husband for alpha reading. Once I get it back from him, I'll do a bit more tweaking, then kick it out to a few beta readers. Hopefully by that time I'll have line edits back on MoL, so I'll have the pair ready for reading.

Both are out of my hands, for now, though.

So I have two weeks before I get my next freelance editing project, and I have nothing to work on. My timeline said that August and September were for MoL and ToK. So I'm toying with throwing a few words at my next adventure novella. Not sure I can get a whole adventure written in that time, but if I get a solid start, that leaves my October open to finish it up and finish any final tweaks on the MystWatch books.

Oh, and freelance edit the next novel-length project for Kevin!

So yeah, October is shaping up to be a conglomeration of various projects, kind of like August and September so far. But that's ok. Keeps things interesting.

And prepares me for starting to write book three in November! Aaaaahhh! I am hella nervous for that. It's the last book in the trilogy, so I have a lot to wrap up. I'm a bit intimidated and I'm not totally certain I know how it ends, or at least what the climax looks like, but hopefully I'll figure it out as I start to write. I have the first several chapters mapped out, at any rate.

And while we're getting ahead of ourselves, I have officially added "commission cover for adventure series" to my project list. I decided that once I have two "seasons" complete, it'll be time to do that. And as long as I stay on track with the project timeline like I have for the last six months, that should be around this time next year, weee!

I am making great progress and I'm feeling optimistic.

Of course, that feeling can change on any given day. But. The fact that I've been able to keep pushing myself, keep working even on the bad days, I really truly believe that I can make it. That I can do this.

I am going to make this happen.

Friday, August 12, 2016

August Update: Project timeline and publishing plans

I still haven't heard back about the 24-hour short story contest. I'm getting antsy about it. Should hear in another week or two, probably. I might do an interim post once I hear.

An interim post would be good, too, since that'll be right after MidAmericaConII. Which is less than a week away. I am completely overwhelmed and stressed out. But. My friend Dianne will be there with me. We've gotten to be good writing buddies lately. We're both very much on the same page as far as writing career, on the same trajectory, with her being maybe six months to a year behind where I'm at. We talk a lot about writing and ideas where with our other friends we talk about non-writing things more. I'm glad to have someone to trek through the wilderness with, because while having Rachel leaving us signs about the trail ahead on the path, she is sometimes so far ahead of me I can't hear her yelling back to me anymore, only see evidence of her passing.

Yeah. Weird analogy. I'm clearly deep within my right brain these days.

So, last month, I finished up the adventure novella. I'm not a hundred percent happy with it, but it is another adventure in that series written, so I am on track with that. It was also one I had been hung up on for awhile, so between that and ToK, I am in good shape as far as finishing my shit.

This month I'm working on editing my shit so it's not as, well, shitty. I spent the first week cleaning up some of the earlier adventure novellas and working out a more detailed series outline, and when I couldn't find anything else to do, I switched back to the MystWatch world about a week early.

No regrets, though.

I have ideas for a new opening for MoL. I haven't written it yet. I am having a hard time going back to book 1 with book 2 so fresh in my mind. So. I dove into ToK edits instead. That mostly consisted of a read-through taking detailed notes about all the things wrong with it. Now I am going to percolate for a few days before I dive in and start fixing it. And by a few days, I mean probably, like, a day or two. I'm actually really excited to start tearing it apart. I was overwhelmed a few times while reading, but there is a lot of really good stuff and the not as good stuff won't be too terrible to fix. I hope.

It's going to take some time. I will probably need all of next month, as I planned. But, with the rest of this month and all of next, I'm doing what is hopefully my final tweak on book 1 before sending it to be line edited and then doing my first extensive revision of book 2 to get it ready for beta readers.

Beta readers won't come until book 1 is clean, though. One or two of them have expressed desires to read book 1 in its edited form, so I want to be sure to have as clean a copy of that as I can.

And...once it's clean...I will probably start submitting it to publishers. I have a couple of smaller, hybrid presses in mind, and I will probably also kick it to the big ones: Tor, Daw, Baen. It will be nice if I can get on with Jolly Fish Press, which is one I found and just fell in love with, but if I don't, then putting it on submission with the bigger houses will give me more time to write book 3 and edit book 2. I'm in no hurry, really.

Except that I really am. I feel so far behind Rachel. And I only have four and change years left to reach my publishing goals. I'm on track to do that, still, so I know I need to relax. After really looking at my project timeline, and rearranging things a bit, if I follow it as well as I have been following it the last five months, it will be around summer of 2018 when I finally should start being able to reap rewards of the work I'm doing now.

Which seems like forever, but I know it'll go fast. The rest of this year is dedicated to final edit for book 1, first revision of book 2, and writing of book 3. Next year I should be done writing and editing all three and will have a complete trilogy on my hands.

Or rather, hopefully in someone elses hands. But if not, that's ok too. I will start self-publishing at that point.

Druid Wars will probably come next. That's what is on the list next as it currently stands. I also have Online Dating for Demons and Hero of Hunker City on deck. Those are both mostly written, unlike the first Druid Wars book, which is missing a huge chunk in the middle and probably a few connecting scenes, not to mention needing an entire rewrite of chapter 1 and maybe 2. It'll probably depend more on mood than size of editing project when the time comes, though. And somewhere in the hole, as the baseball analogy goes, are the Dante novels. But they are low down on the list for many reasons, first and foremost because the first book is not finished. That's a big project, when I finally clear my plate for it. I'd like to do it someday. It has the potential to be a five-book series. But that's for Future Sara to deal with.

In the meantime, I'm deeply entrenched in the MystWatch world with the occasional jaunt into my adventure series to give me a break. Fatigue is a real thing. So is utter revulsion at how terrible everything is sometimes. Thankfully it passes and my motivation to keep plugging comes back.

I'm like...this is HARD! It's too much! I'm so overwhelmed! And then I'll have a drink, joke around with the husband, go to bed, wake up and be like...oh hey! Puzzle! I wanna figure it out, now.

And then I do. Whether it's by letting my mind wander while I walk/drive/lie in bed or talking it out with friends and family, or just writing and rewriting stuff until it works, I know now that I will always figure stuff out. Sometimes all it takes is a few days thinking about something else, and the problem will solve itself. Sometimes it takes months for things to finally fit together in a way that makes sense.

I did actually read more since my last post. So that's good. I realized I hadn't had spent much time in input mode lately. It was all output. So, I am, as they say, breathing in. I'm reading books and watching Firefly again. Hopefully WorldCon will also give me a battery recharge.

All good things right now. Not saying it's easy, but I'm working hard so that things will continue to go well.

Although I think I'm going to need a long nap at some point. Maybe in October. So I can be ready for three months of writing book 3 starting in November!!